Renting and the Law: Tenant gave verbal notice; is that enough?

  • Article by: KELLY KLEIN
  • Updated: December 6, 2013 - 2:44 PM

Q: I’m hoping you can help me out with a jam I got myself into. Last February I signed a six-month lease on a unit in a 55-plus senior community. The lease stated that a two-month notice was to be given prior to moving out. After living here about a month, I knew this place was not for me. It will be great in about 10 years when I’m 65. So I waited until May, with the intention of giving my two-month notice then. I met with the management company, and they said they would love to have me sign a one-year lease. I told them, although I don’t have a place to move to yet, I am leaning toward moving elsewhere. We agreed that I would just pay my monthly rent, with no new lease in place, and then I could move out when I find somewhere else to live. But they still insist that I have to give a two-month notice when I find a place. Is this right, Kelly, even though I don’t have a lease?

A: Minnesota law allows for people to verbally agree to move-out notices. However, when there is a later dispute as to whether or not that notice was provided, the law requires some sort of writing in order to prove that the conversation took place. So, absent something in writing, you will have a difficult time proving you gave proper notice. Even though your lease terminated, you are still required to give notice. Minnesota law prohibits the automatic renewal of leases for periods of two months or more unless the landlord follows a very specific procedure. In this instance, it does not sound like the landlord followed that procedure. Some courts believe that the restriction does not apply to 60-day or two-month notice requirements, while most others will only enforce a 30-day notice requirement. So, you may be liable for only an additional month’s rent.

You should contact the landlord to discuss your situation to see if you can pay one additional month in order to settle the matter. If you do reach an agreement, make sure to get it in writing and confirm that they will not be pursuing you for additional rent and that you were a good tenant.

Facing eviction

Q: I am a tenant having problems with my landlord. I am behind on my rent about $1,055, and I just sent in $700 to be put toward that amount. Over the weekend, I received a notice stating my landlord filed an eviction action. Does this mean I will have to move out?

A: Minnesota law states that a landlord may bring an eviction action for nonpayment of rent, but that the tenant has an absolute right to redeem the tenancy by bringing the amount of rent outstanding to court, plus the court costs. In addition, if the landlord accepts a partial payment of rent prior to the hearing, then the eviction action must be dismissed. In your case, I can’t tell if the landlord cashed the $700 or not. If your landlord did, then you should bring evidence that the check was cashed. If not, then you should bring the amount outstanding plus any court fees when you come to court; after paying, you can then have the eviction action dismissed.

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